WWF RAW July 14th, 1997

This week, the Hart Foundation comes to Texas, where they appear on a Wanted poster (probably not an official one). The Hart Foundation and Brian Pillman come to the ring for a word with Vince McMahon. I say “the Hart Foundation and Brian Pillman” because Pillman’s not an official member. Otherwise, he would have a special jacket with his name on it. Chants of “USA” rain down from the fans, one of whom holds a Puerto Rican flag. Since the cameraman probably mistakes this for a Texas flag, it gets significant screen time.

Bret brags about Alberta’s rat-free status (a first for human habitats!), but says the same can’t be said for Texas. Bret says Gorilla Monsoon has written into Hitman’s contract for the Summerslam his wager that, if he loses to the Undertaker, he’ll never wrestle on US soil. Vince corrects him; if he doesn’t win the title, he’ll never wrestle on US soil. This means Hitman can’t even get away with winning by countout or DQ — a risky proposition considering that most matches have run-ins. But if we want to get technical, Bret said:

“If I don’t come to Canada with that World Wrestling Federation championship belt — if by hook or by crook, I lose — I will never, ever wrestle on American soil ever again”.

That means the US ban only applies if he loses or if he doesn’t bring the belt to Canada. So if he beats the Undertaker by disqualification, steals the belt, and flies to Canada with it, he’ll avoid the ban. In a scientifically incorrect boast, Bret says the Undertaker will free-fall like a dead star after the Hitman beats him.As for the Intercontinental title match, Owen flashes a package of Blistex for Stone Cold’s contractually-obligated ass-kissing. Though Vince takes exception to Owen’s language, he concedes that it is now in Austin’s contract that, should he lose to Owen, “he’ll kiss his derriere.” The British Bulldog then promises to eat a can of dog food if he loses his European title to Ken Shamrock. Brian Pillman then praises Dusty Rhodes for neglecting his son Goldust. He vows to wrestle Goldust in a dress the next night on WWFRaw if he can’t beat him at Summerslam. Rounding out the series is Jim Neidhart (not booked for the pay-per-view), who says he’ll shave his goatee the next night on WWFRaw if any Hart Foundation member loses. The fans cheer, but the joke’s on them; he’ll be AWOL by then. Steve Austin’s music hits; in front of an American flag on the Titantron, he is joined by Ken Shamrock, the debuting Patriot, Sycho Sid, and Shawn Michaels, the latter two of whom are wearing street clothes. McMahon, now on commentary, speculates that any one of these men could be Stone Cold’s tag team partner tonight.

Jerry Lawler and Brian Christopher come to the ring for the night’s first match. This morning, says Jim Ross, Lawler claimed Christopher was his little brother. In that case, their opponents are Ivan Putski and his little brother, Scott. Ivan is 56 years old here, the same age as Goldberg today. Putski grabs the mic and sings, badly, “My Melody of Love” by Bobby Vinton (the Polish Prince). He sang the same song at his Hall of Fame induction. The alleged Lawlers sneak attack the Putskis before the bell. Jerry and Brian subdue young (31-year-old) Scott Putski through a combination of cheating, frequent tags, and hard right hands. The King piledrives Scott, but Brian interrupts the count so that he can be the one to pin him. Christopher misses a flying leg drop, but Putski does not attempt a hot tag to his dad. Only after Brian accidentally kicks the King does the younger Putski tag in Ivan, who throws wild windmill punches like he’s Bart Simpson trying to get away with hitting Lisa on a technicality. The elder Putski hits Lawler with the Polish Hammer to score the pin. “Polish Power indeed!” says McMahon.Vince continues to speculate on who will be Steve Austin’s tag team tonight, but rules out Mankind after Stone Cold stunned him last week and said he’d never be his partner. Mankind appears to threaten Austin with something Mankind thought he’d never do. Backstage, Mankind refuses to comment. This week’s “Stridex Triple Action” replay comes from Shotgun, where Flash Funk hit a moonsault on Owen Hart, Owen hit a spinning heel kick on Flash, and Hart won the match with a Sharpshooter. Notably, Flash indicated submission via tapout, which had previously been limited to Ken Shamrock’s opponents.

Paul Bearer leans contemplatively on a trash can backstage. He says the Undertaker’s “hell” is nothing compared to Kane’s, and that he’ll prove that Undertaker’s brother is alive next week.In Light Heavyweight action, Taka Michinoku takes on another young Japanese wrestler named Tajiri Yoshihiro. Because the family name comes first in Japan, Tajiri’s name is actually correct. What’s not correct is Tony Chimel’s pronunciation of “Tajiri” as if it were Spanish. Highlights air of Taka Michinoku’s (losing) efforts against the Great Sasuke; the announcers have still yet to pronounce either name correctly. In Sasuke’s case, they’ll never get the chance, as he won’t wrestle in the WWF again. Taka dazzles fans with a no-hands springboard plancha on the former dental student. Tajiri comes millimeters away from dropping Taka on his head with a German suplex, but not only does Taka survive, he lands on his feet. Tajiri gives Taka a thunderous sitout powerbomb, but rather than pinning him, he gives him an Oklahoma roll. Would that be a Yokohama roll? He then kicks Taka in the kisser, then lands an Asai moonsault, the only moonsault named for a superfood (I kid, of course. There’s no such thing as a “superfood”). Tajiri hits the buzzsaw kicks he’d be famous for four years later in his WWF re-debut. Vince prematurely declares the match over when Tajiri lands a dragon suplex, but Taka kicks out and gives his opponent a springboard dropkick. Taka finishes off Tajiri with the Devastating Maneuver known as the Michinoku Driver. Ross agrees that it is indeed a devastating maneuver.Backstage, Ken Shamrock says he won’t be Stone Cold’s partner tonight because he has a match with Jim Neidhart instead. It will be “knuckle-up time”, Ken says, which sounds vaguely filthy. Footage from earlier today airs of “The Los Boricuas” arriving in a convertible with some chicas. After WWFRaw is War, USA will air a one-hour special called “WWF Summer Flashbacks” with plenty of WCW stars like Hogan, Savage, Piper, Razor, and Diesel advertised.

In pre-recorded comments, Mosh of the Headbangers thinks they’re wrestling Cheech & Chong. Thrasher corrects him, saying they’re wrestling José (Estrada) and Miguel (Pérez). Disrespectful as the promo may be, they at least identify the Boricuas by name, which is more than the announcers have bothered to do. Miguel Pérez, if you’ll recall, had a brief stint in the Federation earlier this year feuding with Savio. At ringside, fans chant, “USA” at Los Boricuas, raising complex geopolitical questions. When Estrada charges at Mosh in the corner, the Headbanger counters with a headscissors into the turnbuckle, a Maneuver (#2) that McMahon calls clever. Both men tag out, and Thrasher attempts to powerbomb Pérez. Miguel escapes and rolls up Thrasher into what looks at first to be a knee bar, but which he turns into a pin. Los Boricuas win with that Maneuver (#3), then stomp their opponents until the DOA ride down to the ring. While Jim Ross is preoccupied with the Disciples’ “beautiful bikes”, the motorcycle gang joins forces with the Headbangers to beat up “the four Los Boricuas”. Someone enroll Ross in Spanish 101.Backstage, The Patriot Del Wilkes says he’s here to defend the United States against the Hart Foundation. As Vince continues to speculate about the identity of Steve Austin’s tag team partner. Could it be the masked Del Wilkes? Could it be the khaki shorts-clad Shawn Michaels?

Vince McMahon welcomes to the ring San Antonio’s own HBK. Michaels says he’s not 100%, but he’s still ready to team with Stone Cold tonight — if Austin so chooses. McMahon can barely conceal his giddiness. Shawn says he’s not scheduled for Summerslam, either, but that’s up to somebody else. He then turns his head demonstratively to Vince, who cracks up. Shawn drops to his knees in front of Vince McMahon to — you guessed it — beg the boss to let him onto Summerslam in any capacity so he can see The Undertaker banish Bret Hart from the US. “Shawwwwn Michaels!” yells McMahon to the crowd. Shawn starts to strip, then horses around with Vince, who tries to cover him up with a towel.

Too much Rudd, and not enough Styles! It’s time for War Zone. The camera sweeps across the crowd as always, this time zooming in on a homophobic sign agains Jerry Lawler and Owen Hart. Savio Vega has a mic and says there has been a terrible accident, then grabs a cameraman to follow him backstage. Ross and McMahon discuss this news in hushed tones as that same fan holds up his “F** Foundation” sign right behind them. Before they can show us the next clue for the Million Dollar Chance, Savio interrupts to show the terrible accident: he has run over one of the DOA’s motorcycles, which one Boricua is currently hitting with a trash can rather futilely. The Disciples then run to the parking garage to brawl with the Boricuas. This sets off someone’s car alarm, which everyone ignores, obviously. The Harris Brothers chase after the Puerto Ricans on their motorcycles, which is not noteworthy in and of itself, except the Boricuas drag a bike behind them. Jesús, take the wheel!

The whole scene replays after the break. Crush consoles an injured Brian Lee, who shouts, simply, “The Brotherhood!” Crush wants to know “which one of the Puerto Ricans” hurt him. Jerry Lawler is now on commentary, and Jim Neidhart finally has his own theme music. Well, sort of; Scott Putski used the same theme two weeks ago. He faces Ken Shamrock, who is now using the theme he’d use for the rest of his WWF career. Shamrock takes Anvil down with knee bars and arm bars. The fans chant “USA” at the Las Vegas native, whom Vince calls a “big, nasty rhino”. In retaliation, Neidhart takes the fans right out of the match by going on offense and boring them out of their wits. Shamrock takes down Neidhart with a Maneuver (#4), a huracanrana, but Anvil rolls right back up to his feet. Shamrock then slaps a run-of-the-mill standing sleeper hold on Neidhart, who taps out in under ten seconds. The British Bulldog then runs in to avenge his brother-in-law’s pathetic loss. He and Anvil double-team Shamrock until The Patriot steps in to clean house with full nelson slams.On the WWF Superstar Line, Jim Ross offers scoops on the reaction of “WWF alumni” to their inclusion on tonight’s Summerslam special, plus the future of Shawn Michaels in the WWF.

Mankind again will not comment when asked about the drastic measures he promised to take tonight. Jim Ross narrates footage of last week’s match between “Austin and Stone Cold Steve Austin [sic]”, in which Mankind made the save for Austin (which one?) but was rejected by Stone Cold. Jerry Lawler thinks Stone Cold should team with Sycho Sid (That way, when Sid leaves again, Austin can pick yet another partner and become a three time champion). Ross runs down the rules for entering the Million Dollar Chance contest, then finally explains what the “Million Dollar Chance” really is: Two winners will attend Summerslam in person, and two will be called up on the phone, and each contestant will pick from one of one hundred keys. In order to get the million dollars, a contestant has to pick the key that opens the casket of money. In other words, there is only a 4% chance that there will even be a winner. Vince then repeats the previous clues so that anyone watching Nitro the last two weeks will be caught up to speed. This week, the Headbangers are on he golf course when Mosh is struck by lightning. “Today’s clue is ‘Life’”, says Mr. Tee-Vee Trivia, whom Vince identifies as “Wink Collins”, but who is otherwise known as Kerwin Silfies, director of WWF TV.The Legion of Doom make their entrance to face the Blackjacks, but the Godwinns attack Animal & Hawk from behind with chairs. Henry gives Hawk the Slop Drop on the ramp, busting open the back of the Road Warrior’s head and possibly giving him a concussion, says McMahon. Sorry, no BJs tonight.

Dok Hendrix promotes Summerslam to the New York audience and announces matches like the Godwinns vs. LOD, Los Boricuas vs. DOA, and even Vader vs. Sid (which won’t happen). Plus, they can watch the new Shotgun substitute show, WWF New York, Saturday mornings on Channel 31. This week’s Discovery Zone Rewind is Shawn Michaels begging Vince to let him into Summerslam. It’s a slow night for highlights.Flash Funk is in the ring now to take on Vader, who hopes to win his first match in ten weeks. Vader, says Ross, brought a young Flash Funk to Japan to train. After Funk hits a long plancha on Vader (Maneuver #5), Ross compares him to a Light Heavyweight. Later, Vader splashes Funk. “Forget about it!” says McMahon, who can’t believe it when Funk kicks out of… uh, what did he kick out of, anyway? Vince told me to forget about it. In a sign of things to come in his AEW commentary, Ross accidentally praises the determination of “2 Cold Scorpio” before correcting himself. Funk slips out of a Vader powerbomb with what at first sounds like a maneuver; however, McMahon actually says, “all the way over”, not “what a maneuver”. Vader kicks out of Funk’s moonsault, then powerbombs him successfully for the 1-2-3. After the bell, Vader gives Flash Funk a bomb (self-titled).

Backstage, Steve Austin isn’t worried about Mankind before the tag team title match.Austin enters alone to face Davey Boy & Owen. Unlike last week in Canada, this week in Texas the fans love Stone Cold and think Bret Hart humps cows. Austin stomps mud holes in his opponents until Owen catches him with a spinning heel kick. Austin attempts a Sharpshooter, but the British Bulldog disrupts it before being Maneuvered (#6) to the corner. Stone Cold is losing the numbers game, having to take on “two individuals” all by himself. Vince gets a message in his ear that Steve Austin’s partner has arrived; a drum beat plays, and two white boots strut to the ring (along with the person wearing them, obviously).

Austin’s partner has yet to arrive when WWF Raw returns from break. He’d better hurry up, as Owen blindsides Stone Cold with a chop block (Maneuver #7). Vince McMahon does his best Hank Hill-style euphemism and reminds us that if Stone Cold doesn’t beat Owen at Summerslam, he’ll “have to kiss a certain portion of the anatomy of Owen Hart”. “His butt, McMahon”, says Lawler. I bet right about now, Austin is wishing he hadn’t basically told Mankind that hell was the sort of place he should consider making a visit towards. Stone Cold knocks Bulldog off the apron and sends Owen over the top when that drum beat starts playing over the PA system.

Dude Love pops up on the Titantron, a tie-dye headband covering up the shaved patches of his scalp that haven’t grown back yet. Austin is confused and filled with second-hand embarrassment as the Dude dances to his new disco theme music. Austin makes the tag, as does Owen. The Dude puts the mandible claw on Bulldog until Owen hits a flying dropkick. With the referee occupied with Owen, Austin steps in and hits Davey Boy with a stunner. Owen is too slow to stop Dude Love from making the pin and winning his first WWF title. The Dude hands his own belt to Austin before getting swarmed by groupies, but Austin gives it back to him and shakes the Dude’s hand. Stone Cold opts to leave the post-match celebration without gettin’ down.

Final tally:

7 maneuvers (Year total: 90)

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